Masters Degree Programs in Transportation and Logistics Management

Students interested in becoming distribution managers can pursue a master's degree, typically a Master of Science, in transportation and logistics management or in supply chain management; Master of Business Administration (MBA) degrees with specializations in supply chain management are also available.

Essential Information

Distribution management is most commonly taught at the master's level, and degrees are available in different relevant fields. In these programs, students can learn about supply chain processes in global as well as domestic systems. An accredited bachelor's degree is required for admission to all programs; some programs specify that the undergraduate degree must be in business administration. Graduates of transportation or logistics management master's programs can pursue voluntary professional certification.

  • Distribution Management Program Fields: Transportation and Logistics Management, Supply Chain Management
  • Program Length: between 30 and 60 credit hours depending on the program

Master's Degrees in Transportation and Logistics Management

These degrees have several possible titles, depending on the college that confers the degree; among these are the Master of Science (M.S.) in Transportation and Logistics Management and the Master of Transportation and Logistics Management. Degree requirements are very similar, and programs typically require the completion of 30-36 credit hours.

Almost all degree programs in this area have courses in global logistics management and supply chain management. Course subjects that are generally unique to master's degree programs in transportation and logistics management include:

  • Transportation history
  • Differences and similarities in transportation modes
  • Managing transportation around the U.S.
  • Technology and computers for transportation and logistics
  • Objectives and designs in transportation strategies

Master of Supply Chain Management

Supply chain management programs are comprehensive and include the curriculum typically covered by logistics management programs in addition to marketing and customer relations coursework. These programs generally require that students earn about 36 credit hours of classes to earn their awards.

Supply chain management courses train students to analyze and evaluate supply chains and to monitor logistics systems. Students can take electives in international trade, information technology, and distribution management. Commonly required course topics may include:

  • Management of supply chains
  • Information systems
  • Transportation and distribution
  • Strategic acquisitions
  • Designs and strategies for supply chains
  • Models for data decisions

MBA Degrees with Specializations in Supply Chain or Logistics Management

The MBA degrees in supply chain or logistics management have more emphasis on accounting, marketing, and financing than do the other degrees mentioned here. Programs teach students the best ways to transport goods while keeping in mind cost efficiency, customer service, and punctuality. These programs may also include several business courses that apply to international logistics and supply chain management.

Programs require the completion of around 36 to 60 semester hours, depending on whether or not the student has a sufficient background in business courses or enough applicable work experience.

Bridge courses (available online or on campus) may be required for those with non-business degrees or who need particular course credits to begin the MBA program's classes.

A great deal of difference exists among the curricula of some of the MBA programs available, particularly in the amount of weight they give to the supply chain and logistics work. Courses deal with supply chain and logistics principles, along with courses that apply advanced management topics to the field. Here are a few of the topics covered in a typical MBA program:

  • Designing business processes for supply chains
  • Global sourcing
  • Inventory management for supply chains
  • Management operations for supply chains
  • Methods for business research
  • Supply chain management seminar

Popular Careers

A broad scope of job options is available in supply chain management. Positions exist around the world in a wide variety of industries. A sampling of jobs is as follows:

  • Acquisitions or purchasing manager
  • Supply chains and logistics consultant
  • Distribution center or fulfillment supervisor
  • Manager of supply chain software
  • Transportation coordinator or manager
  • Fleet operations manager

Employment Outlook and Salary Information

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS, www.bls.gov), the median annual salary earned by transportation, storage, and distribution managers, including logistics managers, was $85,400 in May 2014. The BLS predicted that the employment of such managers could grow by as much as 5% between 2012 and 2022.

Continuing Education

To enhance professional opportunities in the field, graduates can pursue certification from the Association for Operations Management (known as APICS) and the American Society of Transportation and Logistics (ASTL). APICS offers two main certifications: the Certified in Production and Inventory Management (CPIM) and the Certified Fellow in Production and Inventory Management (CFPIM). Earning either of these credentials can waive some of the requirements for earning the Certification in Transportation and Logistics (CTL) from the ASTL. A bachelor's degree is required to pursue the CTL, so many can receive this credential before undertaking a master's degree program.

In addition to the certifications available to those with a transportation and logistics management master's degree, several other certifications are available to those with a degree in supply chain management. The Certified Supply Chain Professional (CSCP) is a prestigious certification available through APICS via an exacting exam. The certification must be renewed every five years through a points system of professional development.

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